Friday, February 21, 2014

Sausage and 3-Cheese Stuffed Shells {One for Tonight and One for the Freezer}


I have 3 kiddos in my house, and they are not the most adventurous of eaters. I can however sneak just about any red sauced pasta dish onto their dinner plate and just call it "pasta" and they don't ask questions. Because of this, we have some version of "pasta' at least weekly (that and some version of "tacos"- which can be burritos, enchiladas...). Me and my husband get tired of having spaghetti all the time, so I try and change it up with a dish that I know we will both love, but that's also simple enough in flavor that the kids will also gobble up.

You can certainly use Italian sausage in this dish, but the breakfast sausage gives it a less spicy flavor for our tastes. If using Italian sausage, you can eliminate the Italian seasoning. Even though there are 5 in our family, we would never eat all this recipe makes (and it's too hard to half the sausage and beef packs) so I always make one for the freezer. This is also a great meal to take to someone who just had a baby.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup diced onion
  • 1tsp. Minced garlic
  • 1 lb. breakfast sausage
  • 1 lb. ground beef
  • 15 oz. ricotta cheese
  • 1/2 cup shredded Parmesan
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 tsp. Italian seasoning
  • 1/2 tsp. salt and pepper
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella, divided by 1/4 cup for the cheese mixture, and 1/4 cup for top of each dish
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 2 jars marinara sauce
  • 1 box jumbo shells
  • Fresh chopped basil (optional)


Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Cook onions and garlic in some butter in large skillet. Add sausage and ground beef and brown. Cook shells according to package directions. Remove from heat. In a bowl, mix the ricotta, Parmesan, mozzarella, spices and egg. Add to sausage mixture and combine.







Grease a large baking dish for tonight, and another oven proof dish that has a tight fitting lid for your freezer. Pour a thin layer of sauce on bottom of each pan. Drain shells and stuff sausage mixture inside each shell (a heavy tablespoon full). Arrange shells in single layer in both baking dishes. Cover with remaining sauce. Top with mozzarella cheese and basil. Bake the one for tonight for 40 minutes. Stick the other in the freezer. When ready to eat, bake it at 350 for 1.5 to 2 hours. You can also set this out in the fridge a few days before you plan on cooking it and you can reduce the cooking time in half.



I'd also like to note, that if you have leftover meat/cheese mixture after stuffing all of your shells, you can freeze just this mixture to use in the future. It is great to use in our Spaghetti Lasagna recipe!

Tonight I'm serving with a Simple Italian Side Salad.

This recipe was featured on our 30 Days of Dinners June Menu, Make sure to check out all of the other great recipes on that month's menu!
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